07/18/2004 11:00PM

Mona Rose seizes stakes opportunity

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Mona Rose and her jockey, Eurico Rosa da Silva, got to experience the sweet smell of stakes success here last Saturday in the $209,450 Dance Smartly.

While Rosa da Silva had ridden stakes winners in Brazil, where he was born, and competed successfully in Macau before moving his tack here this spring, Mona Rose was making just her second stakes appearance.

An Ontario-homebred trained by Earl Barnett, Mona Rose finished eighth in her stakes debut here last fall in the 1 1/8-mile Carotene.

"She came out of the Carotene very sore," said Barnett. "We decided to stop on her. She needed time to mature, and the rest is history. She's a much better filly this year."

The Grade 2 Dance Smartly, over 1 1/8 miles of turf, was the third win in three starts this year for Mona Rose, who had captured first-level and second-level allowance races over 1 1/16 miles of grass in her first two outings.

Barnett, however, says he originally was looking to run Mona Rose in her next allowance condition rather than in the Dance Smartly.

Barnett was worried because there were several tough out-of- towners nominated to the Dance Smartly. But he decided to take his shot when he learned that none of them were coming for the race.

Barnett said he became even more encouraged when two of the original members of the field of six were cross-entered in Sunday's Belle Mahone, and they indeed scratched. That left just four for the Dance Smartly.

Barnett said his long-term goal for Mona Rose is the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes, a $750,000 race for fillies and mares over 1 1/4 miles of turf here Oct. 24.

There is no suitable stakes race for Mona Rose here in August, but the prep for the Canadian Handicap is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 28, and the Grade 2, $250,000 Canadian goes Sept. 19. The prep is scheduled for 1 1/16 miles of turf and the Canadian for 1 1/8 miles.

Perfect Soul ready to roll

Perfect Soul, Canada's reigning champion turf horse, is slated to make his next start in Sunday's $300,000 Chinese Cultural Centre Stakes.

"He's doing so well right now, I'm going to run him," said Roger Attfield, who trains Perfect Soul for owner-breeder Charles Fipke.

The Chinese Cultural Centre, a Grade 2 race over 1 3/8 miles of turf, will be Perfect Soul's stepping-stone to the Grade 1 Arlington Million, a 1 1/4-mile turf race Aug. 14.

Perfect Soul finished second to Strut the Stage in last year's Chinese Cultural Centre and then ran fifth in the Arlington Million, beaten just three-quarters of a length.

Robert Landry, who has ridden Perfect Soul in all but one of his eight local appearances, has the mount.

Strut the Stage in '04 debut

Strut the Stage, owned by Sam-Son Farm and trained by Mark Frostad, is slated to make his first start of the year in the Chinese Cultural Centre. He hasn't started since finishing fourth as the 1-2 choice in the 1 3/8-mile Sky Classic here Sept. 28. He came out of the race with "a problem," Frostad said.

"I expect a big race from him Sunday," Frostad said.

A 6-year-old Kentucky-bred, Strut the Stage won his opening start in each of his first three campaigns. Last year, he finished second to Perfect Soul when beginning his season here in the King Edward Breeders' Cup over 1 1/8 miles of turf.

Shoal Water, coming off a second-place finish in this year's King Edward, breezed five furlongs in 1:02.20 on the main track here Sunday and also is scheduled to represent Sam-Son and Frostad in the Chinese Cultural Centre.

Slew Valley, undefeated in two stakes appearances since joining Reade Baker's barn here, worked five furlongs in 1:05 on the main track Sunday.

"I didn't need to do too much with him," said Baker. "He's in perfect shape."

Rubber match in Wonder Where

Eye of the Sphynx and Touchnow, who traded one-two finishes in the first two legs of the Canadian filly triple crown series, both worked on the main track over the weekend in preparation for the $250,000 Wonder Where Stakes here Aug. 1.

The Wonder Where, a 1 1/4-mile race that attracted just nine nominees, is the third leg of the series and will be the first turf start for both Eye of the Sphynx, winner of the Woodbine Oaks, and Touchnow, who upset the Bison City at Fort Erie.

Eye of the Sphynx, another runner owned by Sam-Son and trained by Frostad, went five furlongs in 1:00.80 last Saturday. Touchnow, trained by Baker and owned by George Farr, drilled six furlongs Sunday in 1:15.80.

* Regal n' Bold, a 4-year-old filly owned by Farr and trained by Baker, journeyed to Finger Lakes for last Saturday's Proud Puppy and finished fifth as the 6-5 favorite in the six-furlong race.